Not allowing yourself to fell the loss of a loved one or grieve over their loss is robbing you for the happiness and fulfillment you felt from that person’s presence in your life. Yes it’s painful to give into the loss and it would hurt for a while but it would also help you to smile, remember how lucky you had been and to remember that special friendship. Sadness can be helpful.
A recent article in one of the news magazines bemoaned the over-treatment of “depression” and claimed that sometimes it’s good to be sad. I disagree with the author of that article on whether depression is over-treated. I think maybe the author has a misunderstanding of what true depression is and what depression treatment accomplishes; treating a non-depressed person for depression is not going to make them suddenly happy to have gotten divorced, for instance.
But I think that as a culture we tend to try too hard to avoid sadness at all costs, and I think that’s a very serious mistake. I have seen people bury parents and then bury all the feelings associated with the death, all the feelings of loss, all the grief. This is not a good thing. Sure, we can get right back to work. Sure, we don’t hurt.
But is that last really true? We do not feel acute pain, because we’re tamping it down and continually refusing to feel what we’re feeling. But do we get to the point where we are just hurting so much we don’t even know it? I think this is the case.
Let’s say I’ve lost a very close friend. I don’t want to hurt over this loss. So I refuse to feel the loss. When I think of my friend, I close off that portion of my mind and don’t think about it, because if I think of my friend I will remember he’s gone, and that will hurt.
At first this works really well. I’m not hurting over the loss of my friend. I’m not missing my friend. I’m not in turmoil. I can go about my daily business. After a while, I hardly even think of my friend, and if I do, I quickly bury those thoughts because they lead to thinking about my friend’s death.
But after a while, I begin to feel dead inside at times. I know something is missing in my life, but I don’t know what it is. I know that something is missing that I once had, and I assume it’s just my friend’s presence. At which point I again bury those feelings.
But here’s what I think is really happening. When I stop thinking about my friend because it would hurt if I did, I cut myself off from all the happiness and fulfillment I had from my friend’s presence in my life. It’s as if my friend was never my friend at all. I have truly lost my friend.
What would happen if, instead, I grieved the loss? It would hurt! It would hurt a lot, and maybe for quite a while. Maybe always, but when I thought of my friend after a while, I would smile and remember how lucky I had been. I would remember our friendship, the good times we had, and I would be glad that I had been part of his life, and he part of mine. And I would not feel that numb, dead, hollow feeling.
Sadness can be helpful, if feeling our sadness can help us get on with our lives and feel our real feelings again. It hurts, but that’s why we call it sadness.
What can you do to stop burying your sadness and feel your real soul?
- Think of one thing you try to avoid thinking about.
- Try to stop avoiding.
- Make a point of thinking about it today.
Thanks to Intensive Care for the Nurturer’s Soul for including this post in the Carnival of Healing.